CAFCASS, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, states that the number of applications for Private Law children cases has risen, with latest figures suggesting a 23% increase on a year ago.  3,535 new Private Law cases were received by CAFCASS in August 2016 in total.

What are Private Law children cases?

Private Law applications are applications usually made by parents in respect of their children (although it can be done by others) and vary from applications to decide the living arrangements for a child to those to determine where a child attends school or what name they are known by.  The vast majority of applications will be to litigate where a child should live and when they should spend time with the non resident parent.

CAFCASS’ role in these applications will be to assist the court and where agreement cannot be reached, make recommendations as to what is best for the child or children concerned.  Their involvement in court proceedings can be limited to undertaking simple background checks if it is possible to agree arrangements early on in the court process, but they can also be asked to undertake a detailed report which can often take 12 weeks or more, including meeting with each parent and observing them with the children.

Court proceedings themselves can take as long as six months to resolve matters if agreement cannot be reached and so as is always the case, preparation and planning is key.  It is vital that court proceedings are considered the last resort and mediation must be trialled where appropriate before an application can be made.

At Stephens Scown LLP we specialise in dealing with Private Law children cases and within our team we have members of the Law Society Children’s Panel, a specialist quality mark for solicitors who deal with complex cases involving children.

Our family law team advises families across the South West on the best solutions for them. If you would like to get in touch with the team about divorce or any other issue you can telephone0345 450 5558 or email